Emergency First Aid for Your Pipes: What to Do When Something Bursts

Emergency First Aid for Your Pipes: What to Do When Something Bursts

Photo By sirtravelalot at Shutterstock

You might be well-versed in first aid for humans, but are you equally an expert in plumbing first aid? If a pipe bursts in your home, it’s easy to panic, especially with water gushing everywhere. However, there are a few things you can do right away, before calling your trusted emergency plumber. Knowing what to do if a pipe leaks, bursts, or breaks can save you time and money, and reduce the potential damage to your home.

At bluefrog Plumbing + Drain, we’re here to help, 24 hours a day for emergencies. Our expert plumbing teams are here for both repairs and preventative maintenance. Read on for more information about 911 plumbing care!

Know Where to Turn Off the Water

When you move into a new home, it’s important to find out where the main water shut-off valve is – the valve that connects your home to the city’s water supply. If you aren’t sure which pipe burst, or what it’s connected to, you can simply turn off the water to your entire home, giving you and your plumber time to determine the source of the leak.

You’ll also need to know where the individual shut-off valves are for each appliance and fixture, too. If you know for certain where the burst pipe occurred, then you can simply shut off the water to the affected appliances or porcelain.

Once you’ve turned off the water supply, turn on the faucet at the lowest point form the pipe to drain any excess water from the pipe and relieve the pressure. If you can reach it, dry off the pipe and clean the damaged area.

If the burst pipe is due to cold weather, warm your pipes as much as you can to prevent further leaks. Open cabinets surrounding pipes, turn up the temperature in your home, and wrap the pipes with towels.

Once you’ve shut off the water and secured the area, take pictures of all the damage, including the water levels in your home, and all affected areas. While stopping the flood is your first instinct, the photos will make it easier when you file a homeowners’ insurance claim.

Simple, Short Term Repair

Be very careful when handling a burst pipe. An experienced plumber can tell you that the pipe may have a more damaged than you can readily see and handling it too much can cause further breakage and damage to your home.

If there are small holes in the pipe (called “pinholes), then you may be able to simply wrap electrical tape or duct tape around the pipe until a plumber can come to fix it. This is a quick fix, and only temporary – don’t turn the water back on if you’ve only put tape around holes!

At this point, call an emergency plumber, as even small holes can quickly grow. If the hole is larger, or if the leaking comes from the joints of pipes fitting together, then you may be able to temporarily seal it with epoxy putty. This can be purchased at a hardware or home improvement store. It works by sealing the joint and damage, but it will need time to harden and cure. Again, don’t attempt this if you don’t have experience with pipe fitting, as you could cause further damage to the home.

If you successfully apply the putty, however, you may be able to turn the water back on, but the advice of a plumber is always recommended. These two are temporary solutions that you may be able to complete using items you have in your house.

Expert Plumbing Repair

If you don’t have these items handy, if you aren’t confident in your skills as a plumber, or if you need a better solution, a professional plumber can fix your pipes.

They may use a fiberglass tape that can be used for emergency repair. This solution typically cures within 90 minutes, depending on the size of the repair, and may be used until a more permanent pipe replacement can occur. However, if the hole is larger than 2 inches across, or if there’s damage to the pipe seams, your plumber may recommend replacing the pipe.

Causes of Burst Pipes

Understanding how, when, and why pipes break can help you better understand how to prevent plumbing emergencies. Cold weather that freezes water in the pipes is the most commonly understood cause of burst pipes, but other things may indicate when a pipe is close to breaking. Keeping an eye on these indicators can help you turn off the water or call a plumber while the issue is small.

Tree roots can affect the pipes in your home, especially older homes with large trees. As a tree’s root structure develops, it can put pressure on the seams of the pipes. Look for uneven terrain around and under the trees or sinkholes in your lawn that might indicate a leaking pipe.

Certain kinds of pipe materials are subject to corrosion, and, over time, they can weaken and develop holes. Steel pipes, in particular, are affected, although even PVC can wear down if you’re putting harsh chemicals in your drains.

Clogs also lead to burst pipes. Partial blockage reduces the pipe’s capacity to funnel water through them, and this pressure can make the seams leak or pinholes in the pipes to grow larger. Have your pipes regularly cleaned and schedule drain cleaning in your home a couple of times a year to reduce pressure on the pipes.

If you notice that your pipes rattle or clank when turning the water off or on, this may indicate that they’re loose. Don’t try to fix these yourself – a professional plumber can determine which pipes are loose and will use the proper tools and techniques to fix them.

Trust bluefrog for Your Plumbing Needs

The expert team at bluefrog Plumbing + Drain has the experience and certification to fix any kind of burst pipes, from tiny pinholes to the middle-of-the-night emergency. Our teams can walk you through what to do immediately after a pipe burst until we can get a certified plumber to your home to investigate and fix the problems.

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